What is Wittgenstein's book about?

TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2020

Don't even bother to ask:
Wittgenstein arrived in Cambridge in 1911 at the age of 22.

Ten years later, he published his first book, the nimbly-titled Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

The book was impossible to understand. For that reason, it made Wittgenstein one of the leading figures in the world of English-language academic philosophy.

During the 1920s, Wittgenstein lived in his native Austria again. He returned to Cambridge in 1929, and began to work on new approaches to his prior work.

In 1945, he wrote the preface to Philosophical Investigations, a book which wouldn't be published until 1953. At the start of his preface, Wittgenstein explains, or seems to explain or attempts to explain, what this new book is about:
PREFACE

The thoughts which I publish in what follows are the precipitate of philosophical investigations which have occupied me for the last sixteen years. They concern many subjects: the concepts of meaning, of understanding, of a proposition, of logic, the foundations of mathematics, states of consciousness, and other things. I have written down all these thoughts as remarks, short paragraphs, of which there is sometimes a fairly long chain about the same subject, while I sometimes make a sudden change, jumping from one topic to another...
In that passage, Wittgenstein says that he has been working on this new book since 1929. He lists some of the "subjects" the book examines.

What subject does this book examine? Perhaps a bit obscurely, Wittgenstein lists these:

"The concepts of meaning, of understanding, of a proposition, of logic, the foundations of mathematics, states of consciousness, and other things."

Warning! Do you know what it means when someone says that he has been investigating such subjects as "the concept of meaning" and "the concept of understanding?" Do you know what it means to investigate "the concept of a proposition?"

So far, this is a fairly murky stew. As he continues, Wittgenstein seems to say that he had a lot of trouble crafting this new text:
—It was my intention at first to bring all this together in a book whose form I pictured differently at different times. But the essential thing was that the thoughts should proceed from one subject to another in a natural order and without breaks.

After several unsuccessful attempts to weld my results together into such a whole, I realized that I should never succeed. The best that I could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; my thoughts were soon crippled if I tried to force them on in any single direction against their natural inclination.—And this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the investigation. For this compels us to travel over a wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction.—The philosophical remarks in this book are, as it were, a number of sketches of landscapes which were made in the course of these long and involved journeyings.
Wittgenstein says he originally hoped that "the thoughts" in his book "should proceed from one subject to another in a natural order and without breaks." It isn't entirely clear what that means, but Wittgenstein then says that he wasn't able to realize this goal.

He says he eventually realized that his thoughts "were soon crippled if [he] tried to force them on in any single direction against their natural inclination." To our ear, that sounds almost exactly like what he said he hadn't been trying to do. Like much of Wittgenstein's work, this preface is somewhat opaque.

As he continues, Wittgenstein says that, over the course of those sixteen years, "I could not but recognize grave mistakes in what I set out in that first book." As such, he was renouncing "grave mistakes" in Tractatus Logico-Philophicus. But he also says this at the end of his preface:
I make [these remarks] public with misgivings. It is not impossible that it should fall to the lot of this work, in its poverty and in the darkness of this time, to bring light into one brain or another a but, of course, it is not likely.

I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.

I should have liked to produce a good book. It has not turned out that way, but the time is past in which I could improve it.

Cambridge, January 1945
Wittgenstein had recognized grave mistakes in his original book. In publishing the fruit of his new investigations, he could have liked to produce a good book, but it hadn't turned out that way.

Indeed, Philosophical investigations is a very obscure text. AS our current 9-year-olds try to rebuild our nation's stumblebum intellectual culture, we don't suggest that they try to puzzle their way through Wittgenstein's later book.

We do think a highly useful method emerges from the pages of that book. We'll explore that method in the weeks ahead, thinking it may be helpful to today's kids in the task which awaits them. If we might borrow from President Lincoln, those kids have "a task before them greater than that which rested upon Washington."

Do not try to read this book!
Having offered that advice before, we'll flirt with disobedience in our next post.

In that next missive to our 9-year-old kids, w'll look at the first few pages of Philosophical Investigations. We regard the book as hugely obscure, but also as deeply instructive.

The book in question was very hot, if hard to parse, back when we ourselves were 19. We hear that it's largely been discarded. We regard that as a mistake.

10 comments:

  1. "The book was impossible to understand. For that reason, it made Wittgenstein one of the leading figures in the world of English-language academic philosophy."

    If Somerby had no respect for the pursuit of philosophy, why did he stay a philosophy major?

    This is the kind of pseudo-cynical remark that college sophomores make.

    I agree wholeheartedly that Somerby should never have read even the preface of Wittgenstein's book. Now I wish he would stop talking about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DR. GREAT IS THE BEST SPELL CASTER ONLINE WHO RESTORED MY BROKEN RELATIONSHIP AND I HIGHLY RECOMMENDS DR. GREAT TO ANYONE IN NEED OF HELP! 

      My husband left me for another woman 3 months ago and ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love whom i have spent my entire life with. A friend of mine told me he saw some testimonies of a spell caster called Dr Great that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great spell caster on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after 2 days my husband called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through.He came back to me and now we are happy together. I still can’t believe it, because it highly unbelievable. Thank you Dr.Great for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great spell caster here is the email address:

      infinitylovespell@yahoo.com  or  infinitylovespell@gmail.com

      you can also call him or add him on Whats-app:+2348118829899 

      View his blog  http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com








      DR. GREAT IS THE BEST SPELL CASTER ONLINE WHO RESTORED MY BROKEN RELATIONSHIP AND I HIGHLY RECOMMENDS DR. GREAT TO ANYONE IN NEED OF HELP! 

      My husband left me for another woman 3 months ago and ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love whom i have spent my entire life with. A friend of mine told me he saw some testimonies of a spell caster called Dr Great that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great spell caster on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after 2 days my husband called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through.He came back to me and now we are happy together. I still can’t believe it, because it highly unbelievable. Thank you Dr.Great for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great spell caster here is the email address:

      infinitylovespell@yahoo.com  or  infinitylovespell@gmail.com

      you can also call him or add him on Whats-app:+2348118829899 

      View his blog  http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com









      DR. GREAT IS THE BEST SPELL CASTER ONLINE WHO RESTORED MY BROKEN RELATIONSHIP AND I HIGHLY RECOMMENDS DR. GREAT TO ANYONE IN NEED OF HELP! 

      My husband left me for another woman 3 months ago and ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love whom i have spent my entire life with. A friend of mine told me he saw some testimonies of a spell caster called Dr Great that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great spell caster on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after 2 days my husband called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through.He came back to me and now we are happy together. I still can’t believe it, because it highly unbelievable. Thank you Dr.Great for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great spell caster here is the email address:

      infinitylovespell@yahoo.com  or  infinitylovespell@gmail.com

      you can also call him or add him on Whats-app:+2348118829899 

      View his blog  http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

      Delete
    2. Hello viewers around the Globe, Herbal Penis Enlargement product is 100% guarantee to Enlarge and get a better ERECTION ,the reason why most people are finding it difficult to enlarge Penis is because they believe on medical report, drugs and medical treatment which is not helpful for Penis Enlargement . Natural roots/herbs are the best remedy which can easily Enlarge your Penis permanently Contact Dr Olu via Email : Drolusolutionhome@gmail.com or via Whats App : +2348140654426 for Natural root and herbal remedies put together to help you get Enalarge and Erect healthy. Thank you.  

      Once again God bless you Dr. Olu for what you have done in my life.  







































      Hello viewers around the Globe, Herbal Penis Enlargement product is 100% guarantee to Enlarge and get a better ERECTION ,the reason why most people are finding it difficult to enlarge Penis is because they believe on medical report, drugs and medical treatment which is not helpful for Penis Enlargement . Natural roots/herbs are the best remedy which can easily Enlarge your Penis permanently Contact Dr Olu via Email : Drolusolutionhome@gmail.com or via Whats App : +2348140654426 for Natural root and herbal remedies put together to help you get Enalarge and Erect healthy. Thank you.  

      Once again God bless you Dr. Olu for what you have done in my life.  

      Delete
  2. “We do think a highly useful method emerges from the pages of that book. We'll explore that method in the weeks ahead, thinking it may be helpful to today's kids in the task which awaits them. If we might borrow from President Lincoln, those kids have "a task before them greater than that which rested upon Washington."

    Do not try to read this book! Having offered that advice before, we'll flirt with disobedience in our next post”

    Oh, no we’ve come this far. We’re going to find out how Wittgenstein’s book will empower the intellectuals of the future in rebuilding society. I’m all ears.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I’m so excited my broken Marriage has been restored. “We recently made up, even though it was difficult. It’s been more than a month now, and everything feels like it’s returned to normal. He has began to treat me better, and it’s been a healing process for both of us. The nightmare that had lasted for almost 2 years before we broke up is finally over. It’s like we fell in love all over again! We’ve both put the past behind us, and are trying to move forward – and for the first time in a long time, the future looks a lot brighter. I can’t express in words how grateful I am Dr Great! It’s like we’ve finally rediscovered those things about each other that made us fall in love in the first place. All of the worrying and stress has simply vanished. Thank you Dr Great for saving my broken Marriage and brought my husband back to me!”. Me and my husband are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Great. If you have any problem contact Dr Great now and i guarantee you that he will help you contact him through

    infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com

    WhatsApp +2348118829899

    blog http://infinitylovespell1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I want the world to know a great man that is well known as DR Padman ,website: https://padmanspell.com/index-3.htmlhe has the perfect solution to relationship issues and marriage problems. The main reason why i went to DR Padman. was for solution on how i can get my husband back because in recent times i have read some testimonies on the internet which some people has written about DR Padman, and i was so pleased and i decided to seek for assistance, which he did a perfect job by casting a love spell on my husband which made him to come back to me and beg for forgiveness.I will no stop publishing his name on the net because of the good work he is doing. I will drop his contact for the usefulness of those that needs his help.His Email (padmanlovespell@yahoo.com) or his ebsite: https://padmanspell.com/index-3.html Whatsapp +19492293867 https://twitter.com/padman_dr. this great spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem, Once again i am very much grateful to Dr.PADMAN

    ReplyDelete
  5. I want to thank Dr Emu a very powerful spell caster who help me to bring my husband back to me, few month ago i have a serious problem with my husband, to the extend that he left the house, and he started dating another woman and he stayed with the woman, i tried all i can to bring him back, but all my effort was useless until the day my friend came to my house and i told her every thing that had happened between me and my husband, then she told me of a powerful spell caster who help her when she was in the same problem I then contact Dr Emu and told him every thing and he told me not to worry my self again that my husband will come back to me after he has cast a spell on him, i thought it was a joke, after he had finish casting the spell, he told me that he had just finish casting the spell, to my greatest surprise within 48 hours, my husband really came back begging me to forgive him, if you need his help you can contact him with via email: Emutemple@gmail.com or add him up on his whatsapp +2347012841542 is willing to help any body that need his help.
    Website: http://emutemple.website2.me/

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a good idea, thank you for sharing. I will consult carefully before deciding to register!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Greatest thanks to Dr Oyagu for his herbal drugs that he prepared for me and when I start using it in just 2weeks I was completely cured and that ended my HERPES SIMPLEX 1&2 DISEASE i am so happy and grateful to Dr Oyagu . after reading about him on a testimony of Jason Cash on a blogger. I knew suddenly Dr Oyagu was the right Doctor to cure my HERPES SIMPLEX 1&2 DISEASE. I discuss with Dr Oyagu and he prepared a herbal medicine for me and when it got sent to me in south Korean . I used the herbal medicine and 2weeks and i went to check up again. after 15years of suffering from HERPES SIMPLEX 1&2 at last i am smiling once again. Dr Oyagu also has remedy to others disease like COLD SORES,HIV/AIDS,DIABETES.CANCER,HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND MANY MORE. I oblige everyone to contact this powerful herbalist Dr Oyagu and be free from your suffering. contact his WhatsApp line: +2348101755322 or visit his Website https://oyaguspellcaster.wixsite.com/oyaguherbalhome Email:Oyaguherbalhome@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. How I Got My Ex Husband Back..Am so excited to share my testimony of a real spell caster who brou. We were happily married with two kids, a boy and a girl. 3 months ago, I started to notice some strange behavior from him and a few weeks later I found out that my husband is seeing someone else. He started coming home late from work, he hardly care about me or the kids anymore, Sometimes he goes out and doesn't even come back home for about 2-3 days. I did all I could to rectify this problem but all to no avail. I became very worried and needed help. As I was browsing through the internet one day, I came across a website that suggested that Dr  Aluya   can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and and told him my problems and he told me what to do and i did it and he did a spell for me. 48 hours later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my family are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr  Aluya Powerful Love Spell that really works. If you have any problem contact him and i guarantee you that he will help you. He will not disappoint you. Email him at:  aluya.48hoursspelltemple@gmail.com  or whatsapp him on:  +2348110493039      you can also go through his website   draluya48hoursspelltemple.webs.com/

    ReplyDelete